Monday, 28 March 2016

First Look: Arc'teryx Bora Mid GTX Hiking Boot

Arc'teryx Bora Mid GTX
If you have any interest in the great outdoors you'll no doubt have come across Arc'teryx in your time, the gear engineers from Canada. They caused a bit of a stir a year or two ago by releasing their first pair of hiking boots and, Arc'teryx being Arc'teryx, these are a little bit different to others on the market. Now that they have been around for a while, it is possible to pick them up much cheaper than the RRP.
Side view of the futuristic Bora Mid GTX boots
One of the key features is how the waterproof membrane has been incorporated into the boot. Most moots have it sandwiched between the outer fabric and the inner, as you would expect, but Arc'teryx have done things a little differently - more about that later.

So, what do you get for your money?
  • Materials:
    • Upper: TPU high abrasion protection film
    • Lining: 2 layer stretch nylon monomesh, stretch Gore-Tex, air-permeable EVA foam core
    • Insole: Ortholite footbed
    • Sole: Vibram Arc'teryx Hiking outsole
  • Arc'teryx Adaptive fit
  • "Y" groove split heel for improved braking
  • Spherical heel shape for stability and smooth stride
  • Weight: 1.24kg/pair
Arc'teryx Adaptive Fit
The water resistance of these boots is provided by a separate, stretchy liner made from air permeable foam and stretch Gore-Tex. On the top-end Bora2 boot, the Gore-Tex liner boot is removable - on this pair it is sewn in along the foot bed. This bootie, being stretchy, forms around the shape of your foot to provide a satisfying, sock-like fit. Arc'teryx refer to this as 'Arc'teryx Adaptive Fit'.
The stretchy 'Adaptive Fit' liner
In addition to this, the liner construction only has one seam and also allows the Gore-Tex membrane to extend to the very top edge of the cuff, considerably higher than traditional constructions, further increasing waterproof/breathable protection. I have found that wearing normal hiking socks with this liner creates the best fit though some have reverted to thinner types to take into account the extra padding in the liner.

Upper Construction
These boots utilise advanced textiles and Arc'teryx's signature thermolaminated construction. The upper is a single, unified, seamless piece. Made from a PU coated nylon textile, it is air permeable for ventilation and hydrophobic decrease drying time.

Example of the one piece upper used across Arc'teryx's range of footwear
Sole
The Bora Mids use a specially designed Vibram sole with a number of distinct zones. The toes have a flatter area designed for climbing with grooves for increased traction. Lugs down the centre and along the edges provide further traction while the heel features a "Y" groove to provide extra braking during descents. The heel is also curved to create a smoother ride.

View of the Bora Mid's Vibram sole
Curved heel with added braking grooves
Other features
They include a number of additional features that you'd expect to find on a pair of hiking boots including locking lace hooks with added reinforcements for longevity. Something you don't find on many boots are added pull loops on the top of the liner. These help getting the boot on - a task that would be near impossible without them. They have to be pulled on like a pair of socks rather than the time old tradition of pushing your foot in. The liner also make it a bit of a challenge to insert after market insoles, but it can be done!
Branded pull loop at the top of the boot
First Impression
Technology is nothing unless the boots fit and, fortunately, I have found them very comfortable after a short period of wearing in. Their first proper outing was across the bogs of Bleaklow and they passed their first test with flying colours, including some brief bog submersions. They felt a little narrow to begin with but have started to give after a few miles and I can only see them getting more comfortable as time goes on. Their waterproofness and long term durability is yet to be tested but similar reviews have leant towards them being pretty sturdy and very waterproof, despite the unique design.
The Bora Mids on their inaugural day out on Bleaklow